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$21M round for Dwolla disruption validates evolving payments platform, CEO says

DATE POSTED:July 21, 2021

Startland News’ Startup Road Trip series explores innovative and uncommon ideas finding success in rural America and Midwestern startup hubs outside the Kansas City metro. This series is possible thanks to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which leads a collaborative, nationwide effort to identify and remove large and small barriers to new business creation.

A world that can move money simply and securely is one-step closer to being realized, the team at Des Moines, Iowa-based Dwolla said Wednesday, announcing the close of a $21 million funding round. 

“What this round proves to me is that what we’re building is making a difference in the marketplace and adding value for our customers and their end-users,” Brady Harris, CEO, told Startland News. 

“I’m excited about the work we have done — and continue to do — as we shape the future of B2B payments.”

The funding round was led by Foundry Group with additional participation from Park West Asset Management LLC, Union Square Ventures, Detroit Venture Partners, Kansas City-based Firebrand Ventures and Next Level Ventures.  

Elevator pitch: Dwolla is a fintech company that is changing the way innovative businesses move money. Since 2008, Dwolla’s modern platform has powered billions in payments for millions of end users. Today’s most innovative companies are programming their payments with Dwolla — or they should be.

Click here to learn more about Dwolla.

Ben Milne, Dwolla

Ben Milne, Dwolla

Launched by Ben Milne in the late 2000s, the Dwolla platform is used today in a variety of industries from real estate to education, shelving pain points he experienced first hand, Harris recalled.

“Dwolla’s technology is helping businesses of all sizes easily transition from manual payment processes like writing checks or paying costly credit card fees that eat into the bottom line,” he said. 

“With this funding, we see Dwolla continuing to lead the innovation in the payments space and become a one-stop shop for B2B payments. We’re a world-class organization and this funding will help us solidify that position in the market.”

With the close of the funding round, Dwolla has raised more than $70 million with support from such investors as Andreesen Horowitz, High Alpha, Thrive Capital, and Ludlow Ventures.

“This round of funding really validates Dwolla’s place in the payments industry with new and existing investors continuing to show their support,” Harris said. 

“This funding will help us scale our product, bolster our distribution channels and amplify our enterprise efforts. We plan on doubling-down on our low-code components to help businesses start transacting quicker,” he explained, adding the startup hopes to expand its reach with international payment options and continue its efforts to invest in strategic partnerships that provide customers with more features.

“We’re constantly asked about international payments and it’ll be an exciting day when we can say we have a solution for that.”

Such a day could be right around the corner for the fintech company, Harris noted, detailing ways the startup has grown in recent months — an indicator its firing on all cylinders. 

“We have seen an 80-percent increase in transaction volume since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and a growing customer base that onboarded nearly 3 million end users [to the Dwolla platform] through the first half of 2021,” he said. 

“More than $30 billion in gross payment volume is expected to flow through our platform this year, a number that we expect to increase [year-over-year.]”

“In addition to the platform growth, we’re seeing new customers be onboarded quicker with help from our new low-code, drop-in components. Traditionally it has taken a customer anywhere from 60 to 90 days to complete an integration and start transacting on our platform.”

At its current performance pace, Dwolla can onboard new customers in less than a week, Harris said. 

“These types of success metrics validate the work our team is doing and gives me confidence that we are headed down the right path with our product roadmap,” he said.

Dwolla's Des Moines, Iowa-based headquarters

Dwolla’s Des Moines, Iowa-based headquarters

Investors feel a similar confidence, the company shared in a release. 

“It’s invigorating to be a part of such a long-standing industry and see companies like Dwolla continuing to find new ways to innovate it,” said Jeremy Andrus, CEO of Traeger, who made an individual investment in the round. 

“Dwolla is disrupting an industry whose benchmark of checkbooks and hard cash as the primary sources of payment is outdated and inefficient. The Dwolla team’s ability to develop new solutions, leverage new tools and take a modern approach to a traditional process is tenfold,” he continued.

“When investing in companies, those are all important aspects I look for. Dwolla exceeds the expectations of a company that can scale their operations to meet the evolving needs of a modern business.”

This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.

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